David Knight - 27th Nov 2013

After his charming puppet-based video for We Show Up On Radar's Hands Up If You're Lost double-nominated at this year's UK Music Video Awards, it's not surprising that Tom Walsh has been called upon to recreate this style - heavily influenced by the work of Jim Henson - once again, this time, for the young singer-songwriter Lewis Watson and his collaboration with Gabrielle Aplin, Droplets. 

This is not all Tom does - as his sci-fi epic for Swimming shows – but with production designer and puppet maker Amy Nicholson on the project, he has proved once again that puppets - in this case of a big-eyed tarsier and a shy bat – can be remarkable vessels for transmitting human emotion.

Tom Walsh: 

"The promo for Droplets turned out the be the final part in a live-action puppetry trilogy for us. We’d gotten interest from other artists as well as a UKMVA nomination and then received the call from Warner Music. So at the risk of being pigeonholed as the puppet people we went with it and came up the concept loosely based on the title of the track. The narrative follows two creatures, a bat and a tarsier who live in an abstract world made up of a fabric embroidered tree and cave.

"We wanted to pace the video quite slowly and so made the call that we’d put more emphasis on the design and linger on shots longer instead of rushing through the narrative and hiding the creases.

"The puppets were made and operated by production designer Amy Nicholson and the set was beautifully designed, constructed and dressed by Nicholson and her team. We decided early on in the design process to create a set that was quite clearly in a studio space and ‘out of context’, rather than try to force the illusion of a whole other world. So the tree and cave were situated in a studio infinity cove. We used smoke and lights to create atmosphere and a colour gradient for the background. Neil Oseman did a great job as cinematographer and his use of smoke and a cleverly placed 2k gave us the amazing God rays we were after.

"There were a few interesting challenges to overcome on set. Due to the height of the set we had to remove all of the studio space lights and pantographs in order to get the wide shots we needed. Because the set was more vertical than horizontal we had to get in a small crane to transition from one character’s position to another. Finally, the rainfall that happens later in the video was achieved with a watering can in the end, we could’t afford a rain bar. So it was a mixture of high-end and indie filmmaking techniques to get this one in the can." 

Credits

DirectorTom Walsh
ProducerTom Walsh
ProducerAmy Nicholson
Director of PhotographyNeil Oseman
Production CompanyPolymath Pictures
Art DirectorAmy Nicholson
CommissionerWilliam Nichols
LabelWarner Music

David Knight - 27th Nov 2013

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